< PrevNext > Thorsten Eicke, Siemens VP of global mobility services The Guy Who Said Goodbye to GDSs By Amon Cohen / December 20, 2016 Share In June 2015, Lufthansa Group imposed a €16 Distribution Cost Charge on bookings made via global distribution systems but pledged to launch direct reservation channels as an alternative. Lufthansa has been much criticized for this strategy, but in September, it announced that Volkswagen and Siemens had established direct connections to the carrier, bypassing the GDS, and that Siemens had begun using its version.Siemens piloted a direct feed from Lufthansa's passenger services system into its online booking tool, Cytric, in March and by August had rolled out the interface across all Siemens divisions in Germany. Led by Eicke and global head of airline procurement Susanne Steinmann, Siemens had wanted to head direct anyway, and it plans to work with more suppliers to do so.Lufthansa has said the direct connection reduces Siemens' DCC bill by well into six figures but, said Eicke, "the real benefit lies beyond the pricing aspect. We are able to have a customized solution which focuses on the traveler." The first major benefit Siemens travelers have gained is that they always receive lounge access from Lufthansa, regardless of cabin or frequent-flyer status.The influence of Siemens' deal with Lufthansa is still emerging, but Eicke believes TMCs will be transformed by direct connects. "The TMC's role is changing," he said. "They need to find a new relationship that is a lot more than pricing and issuing tickets." As an example, Eicke cites American Express Global Business Travel's move into expense management through its acquisition of KDS.Another lasting effect he identifies: "There will be new ways of distributing air than just through the GDS. It is already happening in hotel and car rental." Eicke said other buyers are talking to Lufthansa about going direct. Meanwhile, Siemens hopes to connect directly to at least one additional airline supplier during the first quarter of 2017.